Greenwash Watch: Solar Panels Do Not A Green House Make

Addison Mizner goes off-grid in Sharada and Don Alducin's 4,800 SF Palm Beach house, complete with twin laundry rooms, gourmet kitchen, three-zone air-conditioning system and 1,000-bottle wine cellar, powered by $65,000 worth of solar panels. Admirably, the Alducins have made lifestyle changes to suit; all their bulbs are CFL and their schedules changed. "I don't wash anything until the sun is up," says Sharada.

The Palm Beach Post's Barbara Marshall writes "They aren't the least bit crunchy.... Their art-filled home with the silk sofas and grand piano is definitely no hippie haven. It's proof that green can be glamorous." and in one sentence proves how the word "green" has been devalued beyond recognition.

This house is energy efficient and Don is correct when he says "It's just the right thing to do," but as Miss Peggy Lee might have put it, "Is that all there is, to green?". And puleeze, for how long are we going to have to live with lame hippie references.

Even the writer notes the contradictions;

"At night or when the sun isn't shining, the Alducins pull power from FPL's grid, like any ordinary house.

"We still pay $300 to $400 to FPL every month, but a house this size would normally cost $700 a month," Don says, for a yearly savings of between $3,600 to $4,800. And if purists should ask why the Alducins didn't just build a smaller home or get by with fewer appliances if they're so concerned with sustainable living, Don has an answer ready.

"I'm not about to do that or keep the thermostat at 78," says Don, who likes his thermostat set at 74 degrees. "We want to be comfortable."

We would not suggest that if Don and Sharada have the bucks, they are not entitled to be comfortable. Nor do we disparage the icynene insulation, solar hot water and photovoltaics; they are great. Congratulations to them both for doing the right thing in reducing their electricity consumption in a coal-powered state.

We do suggest that there is more to being green than just saving energy, that the word has been co-opted and it is time for a new one, because by any definition I know, this house isn't green. ::Palm Beach Post

Tags: Greenwashing